You want your cheeks and lips to be plumped up and look as full and luscious as they possibly can. You want some fine lines and wrinkles eliminated as you turn the pages of the calendar. And, with all the advancements in cosmetic surgery, you can have what you want. In fact, you can even make a temporary decision and then decide whether or not you like what you see.

With cosmetic surgery procedures, you can choose dermal fillers for a temporary effect and then facial implants later if you believe the changes would truly benefit you. The effects of the implants are more long-lasting while the effects of the fillers last only a few months.

But before you get your hopes up, it’s a good idea to get the facts on both types of procedures. Here we'll compare and contrast them so you can learn more.

The Benefits of Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are soft tissue fillers, injectable fillers, or wrinkle fillers. They’re made with non-absorbable materials. The FDA approves them for the purpose of rounding out and smoothing the appearance of your face; for example, plumping up the folds from the nose to the lips, making the cheeks fuller, and even making the back of the hand look more youthful so veins don’t show.

They’re also approved for people over the age of 21 and can even fill in acne scars quite nicely. Dermal fillers are not, however, used to increase your bust size or buttocks. (Read Considering a Brazilian Butt Lift? Here's What You Need to Know.) They can’t be used to make your feet look prettier or for body contouring throughout your body.

Here are some of their benefits:

  1. Results are instantaneous. You walk in with thin cheeks or thin lips and walk out with plump cheeks or fuller lips.
  2. Dermal filler appointments are over and done with quickly. Even if you had to wait at the doctor’s office for 20 minutes, you can still have the procedure finished within your lunch hour.
  3. You only need local anesthetic for the injection of dermal fillers.

The Disadvantages of Dermal Fillers

Just about everything has disadvantages if it has advantages; dermal fillers are no different. Be informed about the disadvantages of these products if you're considering this procedure. Here’s a list of them:

Dermal fillers don’t last forever

Their effects dwindle over time. You’ll have to make repeat appointments with your cosmetic surgeon to fill up the same areas every few months. This means you’ll have to have a keen, observant eye about when to go in next to maintain good results – or simply create a perpetual calendar appointment for them. Cheek fillers and lip fillers need refilling every 4-8 months. The cost will add up.

Dermal fillers are considered unnatural substances by your body

As a result, it’s possible you could have an allergic reaction to them. That means swelling that may not resolve for quite a while. The filler material may clump up and it also may move from the site of injection.

Who administers the dermal fillers should be carefully selected

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of unscrupulous individuals in the last 10 years who think nothing of injecting questionable fillers into unsuspecting and non-discerning individuals trying to save a buck. What they are injecting could be a harmful substitute for the real thing – and cause infections or other issues.

Dermal fillers aren't natural

Because of this, you run the risk of a few serious side effects: dying of the skin in the area and blindness or vision changes. If your skin starts dying in the area of injection, it’s possible for your doctor to inject you with a neutralizing substance if it’s caught early enough, but you are still taking a risk. In a worst-case scenario, there could be damage to your lips. You could even suffer a stroke.

There’s always a risk of infection when you inject anything

Including dermal fillers.

You run the risk of looking “pillowy”

Looking pillowy means your skin looks puffy when it should be contoured. As examples, look at some of Suzanne Sommers’ photos or even Olivia Newton John's.

The Benefits of Facial Implants

The alternative to dermal fillers is facial implants. One example is cheek implantsthat lift your cheeks to model status. First, consider the benefits.

Spaced out appointments

Instead of setting up a schedule of repeat appointments, you can rest assured you only need an appointment once every several years – not every few months.

Better results

The effects of facial implants are better than fillers because you don’t just get a lot of plumpness without any contours. It’s the contours that you need in the face as you age – and that’s what you get with implants.

Lower risk to allergic reactions

Your risk of allergic reactions with facial or cheek implants is thought to be less. The material they are made from is non-allergenic.

Easier to find qualified doctors

It’s more likely that the doctor performing the implant surgery for you is qualified and has been highly trained. You have less risk of an unskilled person harming you.

No serious side effects

There are no risks of serious side effects such as the skin in the area dying or blindness.

Long-term savings

Your cost is less than doing dermal fillers over and over again. Thus, you’ll save money in the long run.

More control

You can opt to have only local anesthesia instead of surgical anesthesia for facial implants.

The Disadvantages of Facial Implants

Of course, facial implants also have disadvantages:

Possible revision scenarios

If your facial implant doesn’t work out correctly the first time it’s done, you’ll have to undergo another procedure to make it right.

Longer appointment times

An appointment for implants will take longer than one for dermal fillers. Expect about 30-45 minutes for the appointment. This means it will be done over a long lunch hour or an afternoon off.

Surgical risk

Like with any procedure, there always is a risk of something going wrong with a cheek implant or chin implant. However, because you only have it done once every decade, your chances of having issues are significantly reduced.


There’s always a risk of developing an infection from a facial implant because it’s something that is inserted into the skin. In one study of 38 instances of adverse events reported to the FDA from facial implants, 16 were associated with cheek implants and 12 were associated with chin implants. 46 percent of the cases were accompanied by infection that occurred about 69 days after the surgery. One-third of the cases were where the implant moved or was pushed out of the body; this occurred anywhere from 10 days to 7 years later.

The Bottom Line on Facial Implants

You can look better with either dermal fillers or implants (cheek implants/chin/etc.). There is also now a third option: your own stem cells, which more and more cosmetic surgeons are starting to use. The choice is up to you, but do discuss the decision-making process with your doctor.

After working with hundreds of patients over several years, he or she can help point you toward the best choice for you.